Panasonic G7 + 14-140mm zoom - G7 jpgs. - GX8 image quality

14-140mm ZOOM

In a complete reversal of what you might expect to hear, I regard this zoom as a professional lens and stuff like the 42.5mm f/1.2 as an 'enthusiast lens.' At least in terms of stock photography. Leisure photographers like nothing better than playing around with a fast. high spec. highly regarded lens, professionals go and get the shot. Every stock photographer I know has one of these superzooms, very few have lenses like the 42.5mm. Because lenses like that are pretty limiting. Sure, I've gone out with a lens like that, but with 1 or 2 other lenses in my bag. And every (EVERY!) time somewhere in the day I've regretted it and wished I'd brought something like the 14-140mm with me, as I do my 25th. lens change in an hour.

I've often seen these lenses described as 'walkaround' lenses (as opposed to sitaround?) and this is yet another example of 'leisure photographer speak.' It's to imply that it's not a 'serious lens' for 'serious photographers' and for wandering around aimlessly taking a few snaps as opposed to a serious endeavour such as photographing the front cover of vogue.

Well three things spring to mind.

  • I've made a pretty decent career out of wandering around aimlessly taking a few snaps
  • What exactly are these serious endeavours leisure photographers need expensive specialist lenses for?
  • The only photographer I actually know who shot a Vogue cover used a Sony NEX-7 + 18-200mm lens to do it. (Oh and about £10,000 worth of flash and lighting gear!!)

So for me any notion that these superzooms are somehow inferior to super spec. fast primes is nonsense in terms of how I make a living. And the point is I suspect lots of photographers agree with me. At least those who actually go out with their camera / lens combination to create some images, rather than play with their new gear so they can brag about it on the internet.

PANASONIC G7 JPGS.

All the above samples are the OOC jpgs. from the G7. Now I normally ignore m4/3 jpgs. as they are usually noise reduced, flattened out, soft poor versions of what I can achieve from raw. However, much to my surprise I discovered that the OOC jpgs. from the G7 are in fact really good. 

Now it is the case that jpg. quality has been improving here and there. I was impressed by the Sony FE cameras, for example. However, up until now I've not liked how either Panasonic or Olympus have rendered jpgs. And certainly these are better than what comes out of my Olympus OM-D E-M5 II. It's good to see and another reason I like the G7 a lot.

GX8 IMAGE QUALITY

Which brings me on to the GX8. The excellent Spanish site http://www.quesabesde.com/ has some samples from the GX8, including some raws. Now if you have a dcraw programme such as Raw Therapee (It's free!!) you can open them. The advantage of this is I can look at the files free from all that background processing that manufacturers introduce.

What I'm seeing is that the files seem somewhat softer than I'm used to with m4/3. Presumably to compensate for the small pixels of the sensor and the claims Panasonic make for high ISO performance. Now this could be that this is a pre-production model, but then Panasonic wouldn't let this stuff out if it was going to be significantly improved when the cameras arrive in the shops. I've always found Quesabesde to be a good indicator of what the final results are going to look like so this is probably something like what the real files will look like. 

Rumour is that this is a Sony made sensor. Panasonic have been doing great things with their own sensors in the G7 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 II, so it's interesting that they have not produced their own here. I'll need to see more of what comes out of the GX8 to finally make a decision on whether to buy it or not. Certainly in terms of what it offers, it has everything I need, but I need to be certain that IQ isn't compromised by the larger sensor. My initial thoughts were that I can get pretty similar (if not better) results  from upsizing images from my existing 16MP cameras - G7. E-M5 II and Leica T.

Now I'm wary of these release date samples and often I've been fooled by them. The actual results when I use my own camera are usually a lot better than these early efforts by reviewers to get something out quickly. And to be honest the jump from 16 > 20MP shouldn't really be that significant. But if you are interested in the GX8 then I'd certainly recommend you have a look at the samples. In the meantime I'm certainly very happy with the G7.